art of resistance, movie/tv propaganda, Pakistan

Why I can’t celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this Friday to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education. That is great news, and it might almost mean Nobel Peace Prize makes sense again, after being awarded to Barack Obama in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”, and to European Union in 2012 “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.

Still, there is something that really troubles me. How come we (meaning the West) always recognize the “devils” of the East, the torments children like Malala had to and have to go through (in her case, with the Taliban), but always fail to recognize our own participation in creating those “devils”? How come we never talk about the things our governments are doing to the children of Pakistan, or Syria, or Iraq, or Palestine, or Yemen? Let’s just take drone strikes as an example. Last year’s tweet by George Galloway might illustrate this hypocrisy.


Galloway is absolutely right. We would never even know her name. But, since Malala’s story fits into the western narrative of the oriental oppression (in which the context underlying the creation of the oppression is left out), we all know Malala’s name. Like Assed Baig writes:

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her. The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations the wars all seem justified now, ‘see, we told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives.'”

The problem is, there are thousands of Malalas West helped create with endless wars, occupations, interventions, drone strikes, etc. In Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, one can hear how little we know about the drone strikes – its aims, targets, results. “Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence, in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me.” This is how Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown professor and former Pentagon official under President Obama, explained the US policy on drone strikes during a congressional hearing last year.

The following photo presents the piece that was installed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, close to Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, by an art collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others associated with the French artist JR. The collective said it produced the work in the hope that U.S. drone operators will see the human face of their victims in a region that has been the target of frequent strikes.

foto/photo via notabugsplat/

That is the reality we are not being presented with. Another reality is the story of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, 14-year-old Iraqi girl, who was gang raped by five U.S. Army soldiers and killed in her house in Yusufiyah (Iraq) in 2006. She was raped and murdered after her parents and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza were killed. Also not irrelevant to mention is that Abeer was going to school before the US invasion but had to stop going because of her father’s concerns for her safety.

article-0-0C89D3B2000005DC-51_634x548Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

And while the West applauds Malala (as they should), I am afraid it might be for the wrong reasons, or with a wrong perspective.  It feels like the West wants to gain an agenda that suits them or the policies they want. That is also why Malala’s views on Islam are rarely presented. She uses her faith as a framework to argue for the importance of education rather than making Islam a justification for oppression, but that is rarely mentioned. It also “doesn’t fit”.

So, my thoughts were mixed this Friday when I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize. On so many levels. They still are. We’ve entered a new war, and peace prize award ceremonies seem ridiculous after looking at this photo.

tumblr_nd1ycaClBV1tgyqboo1_1280“They say that if God loves you, He will let you live a long life, but I wish that He loved me a little less. I wish that I didn’t live long enough to see my country in ruins.”  Ahmad, a 102 year old Syrian refugee /photo by A. McConnell, UNHCR/

Sure, we must acknowledge the efforts of those who are fighting for a better world, but when it is done in a way that feels so calculated, unidimensional, loaded with secret agendas and tons of hypocrisy – I just can’t celebrate it.


159 thoughts on “Why I can’t celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize.

  1. Evil actions do not belong to any one race or group. Governments and nations will always hide their own evil acts and magnify those of others. At the present time Islam seems to breed groups who think they have the right to run peoples lives. The atheist Chineese goverment is the same. Do you suggest we spread the table for them and invite them to lunch.
    We pander to the Chineese because of their economic power.
    ‘ Human evil is a natural phenomenon, and some level of predatory violence is innate in us.’
    Sam Harris neuroscientist

    • Ed says:

      That’s kind of the point of this article… It’s funny that you talk about how all these “other” countries are “evil” but yet you fail to do exactly as the article suggests and examine what we are doing that is harming the world. I mean, you start with the lines:

      Evil actions do not belong to any one race or group. Governments and nations will always hide their own evil acts and magnify those of others.

      In that case, what are we doing? What are we hiding? If we are going to have a positive effect on global peace and stability, shouldn’t we examine what we’re doing wrong first instead of writing all these narratives about how everyone else sucks? I think you managed to single-handedly embody the hypocrisy that the author was trying point out in your reply… kind of ironic.

      • Well whatever we are doing it will be swept neatly under the carpet as always.
        Ask yourself where you would rather live in the corrupt west relatively freely or in the corrupt dictatorships where breathing could be dangerous.
        We all know man is a selfish ambitious beast but some religions and some governments refuse to openly admit it.

    • Susan says:

      Seriously?! I’m sure Malala’s parents are thankful that “the white man” helped to save their daughter and effect her healing. Just because we cannot resolve all the world’s problems does not mean we should demean local, heroic acts–irrespective of the hero’s skin color, nationality or beliefs. Nor does it mean that we should negate or diminish the appropriateness of Malala receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

      Here is a young person who sets the right, and brave example for young people around the world. If even one young person is inspired to follow her lead and strives to make a positive difference in this depraved world, Malala would be deserving of this recognition.

      As far as Mr. Galloway is concerned, the man is either delusional or has been corrupted by his own lies and prejudicial mindset. In a free press society, we absolutely would have learned Malala’s name if she had been KILLED in a drone strike. Let’s see now, how many Western journalists have actually been MURDERED over “there?” Those journalists not only risked their lives–they LOST their lives while seeking out and reporting the truth.

      The only one who can and shall bring real and lasting peace to this world is the Prince of Peace—Sar Shalom—Jesus the Christ. He who has an ear, let him hear!

  2. iftikhara says:

    This is girl a US puppet. She’s all over the news for being “shot by the Taliban for want an education”, but how many Nobel peace prize nominations go to the children killed by US drone strikes? I’m not siding with the Taliban but there’s two sides to every story and I doubt she was shot at for wanting an education.

    This girl is a stooge…….she’s being used as a political pawn piece……bless her soul…..she doesn’t realise that once her use is over she will end up like all the other puppets around the world……… Malala may have been shot but we don’t know who did it. I have talked multiple Pakistanis and they say that much of this stuff is drama. No one knows who really shot this girl.Also many Pakistanis believe this girl is being used to push an agenda. Americans typically buy into the media hype while people in this region of the world see things COMPLETELY different If you ever travel the world you will learn that reality is different from television.

    Have you ever talked to Pakistani people from the region of Pakistan???? I actually have talked to Pakistanis that know about this region and they say that girls were NEVER denied education nor were they attacked by the Taliban. I have also talked to a Saudi that fought jihad there who says the same. The Pakistani government is a puppet and woks for the interest of the West So the Paki government is against the Taliban. There are mercenaries in this part of the world that commit false flags. Im not trying to bash this poor girls, but the speech looks so trained and prepared for such a young girl, like someone has media trained her for other purposes. I hope I’m wrong though.

    • Jungraiz Pukhtunyar says:

      I AM from that region and we love Malala, she is our hero. You are listening to the professional conspiracy theorists. For example, they will start by saying that she was not even shot. So you ask them if their beloved Pakistan army was in on the conspiracy because she was airlifted by an army chopper and operated by army docs. Then they step back and come up with something new. You are also ill informed in believing that no one knew of her before she was shot. I certainly knew of her and she was interviewed by BBC and CNN as far back as 2011 (google it) because she was a prodigy.

      Taleban in no uncertain terms have taken resposibility for shooting her. TTP leader Adnan Rashid phoned the media to tell them that they had shot her, feel bad for it but she deserved it. But promised to spare her in the future. The very next day TTP cheif Hakimullah Mehsud said that they will indeed shoot her again but this time will finish the job. But some Pakistanis are still not sure who shot her, go figure!

      The next person comes up to you with a story like this, ask them what could be Malala’s agenda. Usual answer that she wanted to tarnish Pakistan’s image. As we al know Pakistan was known for its corruption free, peaceful and productive society prior to her being shot. Right?

    • Dr. Atri Chatterjee says:

      Your comments show why the West is able to project itself as the savior. The Pakistan government is definitely a puppet, in the hands of terrorists and also its military. The number of girl child killed every year in Pakistan is going to be far greater than the loss of life due to drone attacks. The lack of respect for women is so endemic, that their people are unable to show happiness when a girl gets the prize. Please think of the situation happening to someone you know, and you will see how ‘dramatic’ it is.

  3. Very insightful. While it’s terrible what Malala has gone through, and it’s great what she’s done, the fact that she’s being used by western governments to push their agendas is also terrible. I’m sure there are people involved in the Nobel Prize process who have pure intentions, but the whole thing feels wrong considering the current situation and our governments’ roles in it.

  4. ssyed says:

    If the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize was to shame those who threaten peace, you may have a point. But it’s not. Its purpose is to recognize those who stand up to those who threaten peace. The Nobel committee’s beliefs about the greater threat — drones or the Taliban — is irrelevant.

    If the Nobel committee had recognized the British government for admitting Malala, Assed Baig may have a point. But they didn’t. They recognized the native girl, not her white saviors. The fact that Malala needed white saviors — that many Pakistanis appear to be more tolerant of the Taliban than they are of her — is another matter.

    If John Oliver and JF were more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize for calling out the hypocrisy and short-sightedness of drone strikes, you may have a point. But they’re not. They do not face death to stand up for their admirable beliefs. As I’m sure you’ll agree, Malala’s words and deeds are far braver than their’s.

    If the so-called “West” was somehow censoring Malala’s comments on Islam, you may have a point. But it’s not. There are several examples of mainstream Western media outlets talking about her religious identity, including some below. Regardless, the West is hardly a monolith — there are plenty of voices for and against her.

    As it is, your argument appears to be a treatise not on Malala or the Nobel committee’s decision, but a refusal to celebrate a recognition simply because others in “the West” are celebrating it.

    A small sampling of the media reports I mentioned:

    –“Malala, a devout Muslim, has given voice to millions of fellow believers who are disgusted by the extremists who twist the words of Islam to suit their ultra-conservative beliefs.” (

    — Video of Malala explaining what people don’t understand about Islam. (

    — “As a rebuke to the evil of the Taliban, Islamic State and Boko Haram, whose grotesque extremism includes seeking to deny girls the right to an education, it would be hard to conceive of anything more symbolically powerful than the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the brave Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. … Just 17, Malala is an unquestionably heroic figure; a devout Muslim who has provided a lesson in how the world should stand up to, and never be cowed by, the insidious threat of Islamic extremism.” (

    — “There is a blind and passive kind of denial and resistance to the idea that some of these ills are ingrown and coming from within Muslim societies and the failures of their governments and leaders. Yousafzai is way ahead of them. For apologists wallowing in self denial, or lesser individuals who prefer to wait out these somber times without sticking their neck out, she is a breath of fresh air.” (

    • mabemawi says:

      Thank you very much for this response. And especially for pointing out that in ‘The West’ there is broad recognition for this young woman’s courage WITHIN the context of her faith. Politicians will be politicians and propaganda will be propaganda. Those certainties apply as much to Western powers as to their critics here – who all seem equally keen to look good at the expense of Malala’s exceptional bravery.

  5. This is why Muslim countries are so backward. Why can not we celebrate Malala and focus on girl’s education? Why do you have bring separate topic which is drone attack in order to smear Malala’s nobel prize win and campaign for girl’s education? The truth is every war against evil (like Bosnian war (where Christians were committing genocide against innocent Muslims), innocents people like children will die. That is the reality of war. If there was no drone attack in Pakistan, Taliban would be stronger in Pakistan. I also believe, when drone or army kill innocent people, it should be publicized and the people who committed the errors or murders should be held accountable.

  6. they see only malala in pakistan they are not worry about the every day strike on innocent childerns who can be malala also but we can hope for sunrise for the world only it will happen if we learn how to respect for every persons in this world in after world war 2 every country want democracy but for democracy need also educated nations also.i think when every body will be educated then they will chose a new world a better world and for that the world can spend another 100 or more years

  7. Muhammad younas says:

    I am so glad to go through the article presented by Siliva. I appreciate n impressed to listen from a western lady doctor the facts as voice of the hearts of most of the people of the region.

  8. Ibrahim Usman says:

    USA And Enemy of Muslims Use her for the wrong reasons, or with a wrong perspective.  It feels like the West wants to gain an agenda that suits them or the policies they want.She uses her faith as a framework to argue for the importance of education rather than making Islam a justification for oppression, but that is rarely mentioned. She never Argue or Talked against Us Drones Attack Policy Which Killed 100 of Innocent Children in Northen Areas She is just like Puppet of Usa and Israeal who use her in future against muslim Countries …(long term planning u know) …in the end dont forget Osama Bin leden was also a Puppet Of America ..

  9. The modern weight of the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t really carry a lot of relevance in a world that is plagued by kleptocracies that thrive off perpetual cycles of war. If anything, that particular prize provides credentials that are often marketed as bragging rights to career politicians. Those that are awarded the prize cross into an elite society where each member respectively congratulates the other for saving the world in some of the most lavish forms of celebratory jubilance. A recipient is suddenly regarded as a survived expert based on their awarded accomplishment and eventually become the lauded authorities of the politically correct establishment. The basis of that gesture alone does not really say a lot about our humility and civility as a species.

    Is there really anything to celebrate when the Middle East and Central Asia remain critical hotspots of every imaginable form of sociological anguish? Every institutional power structure requires a poster child that exonerates the legitimacy of its international balance of power. In Malala’s case we can’t help but to critically ponder the following: how many other young adults have suffered the same fate at the hands of fanatical extremists? What sort of victory are we really celebrating and how does that compare to the progress that has been made toward the greater issue at hand? The Nobel Prize Foundation flaunts toward visions that preach a world of truth, transparency, enlightenment, and justice, but where does affirmative action come into play when the only thing that is being done on behalf of each principle masquerades behind superficial celebrations that aren’t really transferable to the facts?

    We’ve become victims of a universal culture that thrives on the congratulating of the self and as a direct implication becomes the very abomination we are trying to avoid outright; deliverance to that fact continues to reach greater proportions as instantaneous communication unilaterally delivers the point supporting it.

  10. Well, I belong to the same district where Mala was shot. I believe it was a total drama. I am a person whose house was occupied by the Taliban during fighting with with the Army. Taliban were not only threat for children education, but were threat for all of us who were even a little against them, they were beheaded. Mala is going to be prepared is a role model indeed an evil model for the girls in that region and then they would be able to control the girls through this weapon.

    About the girls education in that region. Actually, no one can bother to stop you from sending your girls to the school. I have several nephews in our joint family, and we send all of them to the schools. So is just a conspiracy and nothing else.

    Finally, people gets education to live their lives, so life is more important than education. Why the boys, girls and all innocents in the drone attacks are not highlighted by the media? Because they wanted to ruin the Pashtons since they are a big threat for them and they feel very embarrassments that the entire US, Canada, West and NATO are unable to defeat these illiterate, poor people.

    To let them know, all of the Pashtoons are leaving almost in the mountains areas and physically there are very strong, if you kill one child, there borns 100. So you can never destroy us, indeed you are destroying yourselves.

    • Dr. Atri Chatterjee says:

      I wonder why the world would be hell bent to destroy an area that has anything to contribute except battle-hardened guerrillas. Unless it sheltered one of the largest terrorist organizations, no one would have traveled out there, talked about the place or reported a shooting in international media. Shootings have claimed lives of students in US, but no one knows their names. Malala is in the spotlight because she was attacked by Taliban. I feel strange when I look at the figures of female literacy in Pakistan, because with the picture you painted, it should have been much higher.

  11. Rizwan says:

    To me facts are
    1. It is true Malala wanted education and Taliban do npt want females to get education and try to stop and in this course Malala was heart in a killing attemt.
    2. It is true western Govts are only interested in their own interests and want other nations to peacefully obey their commands.
    3. It is true they want to be good in their own eyes that they are doing too much for saving world.
    4. It is true they want to do good for other nations but not come to a point where they should become independent and have conflicts with them.

  12. Bianca says:

    Very sad, we reckon there is a group of very senior executive of Pentagon, FBI and CIA who make these (drone attacks) absurd decision’s are actual Psychopaths they get pleasure by killing defenseless human beings & they are getting away by not justifying their actions -secret mission, also USA have stock pile of weapons & instead of destroying them they are using them on humans (Muslims) some body should take USA past & present Presidents & their General to Hague for Human Rights commission just like we did for Serbian General Milosevic this will teach them a lesson that Just like USA, Pakistan is a democratic country & people are entitle to their opinion if they hate American’s they can it is not an offence beside they are oceans away from America they don’t pose any threat to them so why do drone attacks on them while they are living in their own houses in their own country Pakistan.

  13. Rizwan says:

    Missed one comment. It is a question that ” Are malala’s efforts so significant for children education that she got noble price?” Not at all, and confirms that incident is being used to only promte westerner’is intention to look good in the eyes of world that they are doing good.

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  15. Susan says:

    Celebrate Malala because she has had the guts to come out against U.S. drone strikes. True courage.

    • A writer from the East says:

      Yes I absolutely agree, she is a survivor. But many Malalas were exterminated and will be terminated by western countries in their quest for power within east. And shame on all those nationalities and nations that send drones to other sovereign countries with and without approval of their Governments that are puppets for DOLLARS.
      Have you ever seen a after drone strike situation? I have seen it and I can tell you that its a ugly sight with battered meat pieces, pollution, chemicals and basically hell on earth.

  16. We celebrate Malala because she is far braver than the terrorist cowards that fear her and her ideas, so much so that they must (by their own admission) shoot her. Pretty clear to anyone not trying to defend the indefensible.

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  18. Jill says:

    So she just got shot in the head to be a stooge did she ?
    What a sick world and what cynical sadness !!!!!

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  21. stanely21 says:

    A racist article. Just more of the same hateful “evil West” crap we see every day. It’s getting really old.

  22. I’ve always supported Malala still I cannot disagree with what you wrote. While her stand was a mark of courage but her elevation to the esteemed Nobel price is a sataition of the western conscience. Every child in Palestine who lost her parents, every father who lost his child stood for a lot more than what Malala stood for.

  23. Marc says:

    What’s the expression? “Even a blind squirrel finds an occasional nut?” I agree with your premise that the Western hegemony is a brutally unfair system, but how can you see this recognition of Malala Yousafzai’s struggle and her stand as anything other than positive? The blind squirrel found a nut. Yes, our drone strikes in Pakistan are making life worse for Pakistani people like Malala. The Nobel committee should have awarded the peace prize to the eminent politician who has made a public stand, stating that he will make it his life’s work to end those strikes, or die in the trying. Said eminent politician, please stand up. (*crickets chirping*) Oh, I guess that there is no such person on the planet. Other people have suffered as much or more as Malala. So, by refusing to recognize Malala’s struggle, we are honoring those victims? I have a hard time following that logic. I think of it this way: Now, an intelligent, brave, motivated young Pakistani woman has half a million dollars at her disposal, to spend at her discretion. Her past behavior leads me to believe that she will use the money to effect some sort of positive social change in her society. That’s a win. So, that’s why I have no problem celebrating her Nobel Peace Prize.

    P.S. My metaphor might be a bit labored: the “blind squirrel” is the Western media, and the “nut” is a thing of value, i.e., Malala.
    P.P.S. Bear in mind, too, that Malala made her stand before she knew that she would eventually become a Western media darling. That took some cojones.

  24. you know what you gotta try to find the silver lining. don’t tarnish malala’s achievements because everyone is not recognized. she came a long way from a little girl targeted by EVIL fundamentalists located in PAKISTAN not the WEST. I am sick of the whole thing. I just wish women would stand up take off their veils and be people not objects or possessions of MEN no matter what religion or country they are from


  26. Great article. Thank you. Can’t find any info about the author. I’m very curious to know if you’re a journalist, where do you work…

    • A writer from the East says:

      Nobel Peace Prize is a western political and diplomatic tool that has been awarded to war criminals including Kissinger, European Union, Arafat etc and clearly there is something very wrong in the whole definition of peace.
      I am not interested in western troupe using a native girl for their narratives. Malala deserves to be celebrated for her courage, will and her youthfulness and in time, we hope for making MALALA FUND workable in new schools within Pakistan.

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  30. monzee says:

    I am a Pakistani woman living close to where malala lived. I just want to ask one question from the very delusional western world. IS EDUCATION MORE IMPORTANT THAN HUMAN LIFE? Scores of innocent pakistan children are being butchered by the American drones and nobody is bothered about that. Is human life so cheap. Why can’t the western world celebrate the human spirit of those parents who’s children get killed in those strikes. Nobody is denied the right to education in pakistan be it a girl or a boy but we are certainly being denied a right to live. What use is education when we have dead children. Who needs a stupid award when a sovereign country is attacked by psychotic few sitting thousands of miles away. Celebrating Malala-Western hypocrisy indeed!

  31. quaquaquaqua says:

    Thank you so much for vocalising the views of countless forgotten innocents that are so easily overlooked.
    The Malala bandwagon is an easy one to jump on. It’s reassurance to a guilty yet largely indifferent Western world that refuses to admit to its hypocrisy.
    Let history be the judge of us.

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  34. I don’t live in Pakistan…but as a woman…I found it incedibly difficult to learn to speak up for myself due to personal conflict in my life…but gradually I overcame much of that fear…no matter what the intellectual context of the decision to award her this or any other prize she is a symbol of courage for children and especially women. Think freedom…simplicity…no boxes…

  35. That was beautifully written. The West is always painting the East are savages or less fortunate and sadly the East continues to buy into the Western illusion of opulence and comfort. Thanks to their influence, we only ever hear that side of the narrative and often forget than there are always two sides to a story. Not everyone has the resources or time to research and find out the alternative and hence you have West winning the war of influence.

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